There are generally two types of powers of attorney (POA) — financial and medical. You can also create your POA to be durable or non-durable. To plan for incapacitation, you need a durable POA.
A durable POA allows your agent to assume responsibility as your decision-maker in case of a sudden accident or a progressive disease that affects your ability to make or communicate your decisions.
Do I Need a Power of Attorney for Healthcare in Georgia?
If you're in an accident or develop a condition that affects your decision-making ability, how can you designate someone to be able to legally make your healthcare decisions? Do you need a durable power of attorney for healthcare to do this?
In Georgia, the answer to these questions is to use the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. The document, a creation of Georgia law that became effective in 2007, replaces two types of other planning documents that were used prior to 2007: a power of attorney for healthcare, also called a medical power of attorney, and a living will. Therefore, we no longer use a power of attorney for healthcare (or a medical power of attorney) anymore.
Do I Need a Living Will in Georgia?
Most states recognize a living will or advance healthcare directive to help a person make their wishes for treatment clear to their agent and family members. In Georgia, a simple form called the “Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care” combines a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will into one document. Because of this, we don't generally use a standalone living will anymore, and instead have our clients use the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, which combines features of a living will and a power of attorney for health care into one document.
In this document, in addition to nominating an agent to make medical decisions for you if you can't do it yourself, you have the opportunity to provide your wishes as to how you want to be treated in two common end of life scenarios, such as when you have a terminal condition that will result in your death in a short period of time, or you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness, or are in either condition.
In providing your treatment preferences, you can also determine whether your wishes include:
- Life-sustaining treatments
- Feeding tubes
- IV fluids or other fluid administration
- Ventilation (intubation)
- Resuscitation by CPR
- Surgical and diagnostic procedures
- Blood transfusion
- Palliative care
What Healthcare Decisions Can My Agent Make?
Your agent should follow any advance directives first. If they need to make a medical decision not outlined specifically in your advance directives, such as in certain medical emergencies, they must make the decision in your interest.
For example, if they know you follow a certain religion, they should inform your doctors not to perform any procedures not supported by your faith. One study published in the Archives of Surgery suggests that modern Jewish and Muslim literature favor using tissue implants from pigs if no alternatives are suitable, while Hindu leaders do not allow the use of bovine (cow) tissue implants. Ensure that your agent knows your preferences.
Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts to Prepare for Medical Emergencies with an Advance Directive for Healthcare
For help creating an advance directive and other important planning documents, contact us at Peach State Wills & Trusts. Since 2007, our team has helped hundreds of Georgians with estate planning. Contact us online, or call 678-824-8278 to discuss your situation and see how we can help.